Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maine Lighthouse Tour Trip Report

The second week in Maine NoVA Travelers hosted a scenic lighthouse tour. I had not been up through Maine in roughly 10 years so it was really refreshing to lead the group on this trip.

 
 

The plan was to fly to Boston on a Friday afternoon and rent a car for our adventures and everything fell into place as it should. Since there were only a couple of members that signed up for this particular trip, I was able to insert a slight detour on the way up to Maine to stop for dinner with a college friend of mine. She was very gracious (Thanks Helen if you're reading this) and her enthusiasm for …well for just about everything…is infectious and joyful. She steered us to a great dinner spot and we had a lovely time.

 
 

Once dinner was over, we said our goodbyes, and headed for Camden - the furthest point on our itinerary. We made it to the Whitehall Inn (http://www.whitehall-inn.com/) pretty late and found our room keys waiting for us at the check-in desk. This inn gained its fame through multiple events- first in that it served as the backdrop setting for the movies Peyton Place and Thinner, and second in that a famous author - Edna St. Vincent Millay - spent most of her time writing her work on the property. Heartwarming only begins to describe the property- with clear views to the ocean and charming historic photos and antiques throughout the Inn, this is a place to come back to. Leilani has posted many pictures from the Inn (and the trip in general) on facebook. If you're a member of facebook and friend me on the site (http://www.facebook.com/jenniparks) I can point you on your way to the pictures.

 
 

Saturday morning we woke up to a fantastic breakfast spread in the Inn's dining room. I love it when the thoughtful touches are in place such as the tiny gourmet jam and marmalade jars or the delicate tea selection. Once we had the car loaded up and we'd taken our fill of pictures in Camden we began to wind our way down the coast along Route 1, stopping at lighthouses all along the way.

 
 

Our first lighthouse stop was Curtis Island. The original light station dates from 1836, present lighthouse and keeper's house date from the late 1800's. We stopped at a small park in Camden to get the best views. Then we moved on to the Indian Island light. It was decommissioned in the 1930s and privately owned since then. We got a distant view from shore at the Marine Park in Rockport. Our third lighthouse stop was one of the most beautiful - Rockland Breakwater. At this location, a small lantern was placed at Jameson Point at the entrance to Rockland Harbor in 1827. As Rockland became a leading port in the late 19th century, it was decided that a lighthouse should be built. The townspeople kept moving the light out further along a jetty as the jetty was constructed. Finally in 1902 a permanent lighthouse was built at the breakwater's end. It was almost destroyed in the 70s by the govt who felt it was no longer necessary but eventually concessions were made, ownership changed hands and the lighthouse has been preserved.

 
 

We took a break after that, following a tip I'd received to seek out one of Amy Upham's pies at Thomaston Grocery. Apparently she is a stay at home mom famous throughout all of Maine for her fabulous pies. It was quite a drive out to the grocery but SO WORTH IT. Absolutely the best blueberry pie I've ever had hands down. We found an Irish pub nearby the grocer and brought our pie in. The staff were nice enough to bring us plates and whipped cream for our pie after our lunch so we cut them in on the pie and they seemed to appreciate that very much.

 
 

After lunch we made our way to Owl's Head light, another beautiful and historic lighthouse in Rockland. Then onto Marshall Point light at Port Clyde Harbor.

 
 

We eventually arrived in Portland where we checked into our hotel for the night and headed to dinner at Caiolas (a highly recommended seafood restaurant http://caiolas.com). The food was excellent and the bartender proved to be good company for the evening.

 
 

Sunday was our final day of the tour. We stopped at Cape Elizabeth lighthouse - the most powerful light in Maine (a 4 million candlepower flashing white light visible for 27 miles) before moving on to Portland Head light which is probably the most photographed and most famous lighthouse in all of the United States. It's so beautiful it's easy to see why it is a popular site for weddings. In fact there was a wedding party taking pictures while we visited.

 
 

We tried to make a stop at another well known lighthouse (Spring Point) but were thwarted at every turn by barricades setup for a fundraising 5k run. Instead, we compromised on our afternoon itinerary and found a local ice cream shop to indulge in summer's treat.

 
 

We stopped over at an oceanfront seafood shack for a fresh lobster lunch (yum) and then drove back toward Boston, dropping in on the historic town of Salam (which Leilani promptly fell head over heals in love with) before making our way back to the airport.

 
 

Maine is known for many regional delights - blueberries, moose, wild forests, rugged ocean coastline, scenic lighthouses, seafood and historic inns just to name a few. I'm very glad we were able to enjoy some of these on our trip. Especially if you enjoy seafood (lobster was under $5 a pound!) you owe yourself a trip to Maine.

 
 

You can read member reviews of this trip to Maine here: http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/9812969

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